I’m sure somebody somewhere thought Six Feet Under covering AC/DCs Back in Black album in its entirety was a good idea. After all, AC/DC’s 1980 album is a classic example of sex, drugs and rock and roll with a side order of violence. No stranger to those same topics (as heard on songs such as Burning Blood, Revenge of the Zombie, and Feasting on the Blood of the Insane), it would seem as through Six Feet Under and AC/DC’s Back in Black would be a match made in Hell. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way things went terribly wrong.
AC/DC fans have been split for more than a quarter century now between Bon Scott (AC/DC’s original front man) and Brian Johnson, his replacement. After Scott left the band (and the planet; he choked to death on his own vomit), Johnson joined the band and as a tribute to all that is Bon Scott, the band (along with a little help from Mutt Lange) wrote and recorded the bands seventh studio album, Back in Black. Johnson’s vocal style and delivery differed from Scott’s, and fans have been arguing over who was better ever since.
In a distant third would be Chris Barnes, lead growler of Six Feet Under and former lead singer of Cannibal Corpse. Barnes’ vocal delivery consists of little more than one long monotonic grunt. And, at least for a few minutes, it works; lines like “You’re only young, but you’re gonna die”, and “if you’re into evil you’re a friend of mine”, sound convincing enough. But as the album goes on, Barnes’ death metal delivery becomes less and less applicable. By the time we reach Given the Dog a Bone, the shtick seems silly; by You Shook Me All Night Long, it just seems stupid.
Even worse than Barnes is guitarist Steve Swanson, who simply isnt as good as Angus Young (who is?). Swanson attempts to hide the fact by hiding behind frequently pitch-bending notes and plenty of whammy solos, but the difference is blatantly obvious in well-known riffs such as the opening of You Shook Me All Night Long. Even worse is the heavy distortion and dropped tuning, which creates a muddy mess and completely strays from the dynamics AC/DC originally delivered. While Swanson is obviously a talented guy, the mix does him no favors. Terry Butler (bass) and Greg Gall (drums) more or less stick to the original material.
Six Feet Under could have done something really neat with this tribute and made these songs their own by adding double bass or changing the tempos perhaps. Instead, they recorded ten fairly straightforward cover songs and growled over the top of them. I cant imagine either AC/DC or Six Feet Under fans getting a kick out of Graveyard Classics 2 more than once. Its like one of those weird, alternate universe things comic book fans drool over like if Superman and Han Solo hung out for a day. At the end of the day, Han Solo and Superman dont really have that much in common. Then again, neither do AC/DC and Six Feet Under.